In our May issue, we shed a spotlight on Nneji Ifeyinwa Umeokeke, a Nigeria-based researcher with keen interest around production economics, circular economy, impact evaluation, and welfare. Nneji spoke to our ARN team and shared more about her passion for development research. Here is what she had to say:
Tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Nneji Ifeyinwa Umeokeke from Oyo state, Nigeria. I am a PhD student in the Department of Agricultural Economics, at the University of Ibadan. My journey in welfare started with my Bachelor’s thesis from the University of Maiduguri, Nigeria – research on the profitability of the cassava value chain. During my Master’s degree at University of Ibadan, I worked on the impact of the electronic wallet system on farmers’ welfare in Nigeria.
Currently, I am working on the impact of water hyacinth fibre and craft products on the welfare of artisanal fishing households in riverine areas in Nigeria.
My ambition is to obtain my PhD degree, attend international fellowships, connect and work with multi-national organizations, and policymakers beyond Nigeria and Africa.
What are some of your research interests and why are you passionate about it
My research interests are in production economics, circular economy, impact evaluation, and welfare. I developed an interest in impact evaluation because it gives a rich picture of the local context, identifies activities which are likely to cause impact, encourages inclusiveness, mitigates negative effects and identifies opportunities for progress, sustainability and livelihood. A good example is my work on the yield effect of climate change adaptation from Anchor’s Borrower’s program among rice farming households in Nigeria.
Currently, I am part of a research team that is working on the rapid assessment of the Horti igeria program sponsored by the International Fertilizer Development Centre and its partners that involves over thirteen stakeholders along the horticulture value chain.
What are the most interesting research findings from your work so far?
Youth participation is critical for the goals of sustainability and agricultural production to be achieved. In addition, women participation in agriculture can drive economic gains in the industry. Agricultural production and welfare could increase from the adaptation of several climate change strategies, and the interlink between agricultural production decisions (seed certification, agrochemical application and biodiversity conservation) can be achieved through youth involvement and access to extension services.
What are some challenges you face in your industry?
The major challenge I face in the research field is a lack of work-life balance. This is especially seen when going for field research that requires weeks of physical participation, therefore losing a lot of opportunities from networking; unequal opportunities, and a lack of motivation.
What is the most promising and /or exciting part of your research work?
Persistency has been my drive because each failure gives me another opportunity to learn. Diversity in knowledge in the course of getting feasible research for my PhD work has helped me pull through. Experience in the use of water hyacinth fibre and other agricultural waste to produce biodegradable products with local communities is the most exciting part of my research work. Many thanks to Mrs Achenyo Idachaba-Obaro the founder of Mitimeth, a non-governmental organization, for the insightful experience.